Life is a question and how you live it is your answer. The focal question is a simple formula for finding answers that lead to outstanding results.
Ask yourself, “What is that single thing I can do to make everything else easier or unnecessary?” This question will provide both an overview and a point of sight focused on what you need to do today to get your one thing. It pushes you to go to what is most important, that first domino that will make everything else fall into place. Fuelled by the focal question, your actions become a natural progression towards your goal. Ask yourself, “What's my only thing?” to define your “big thing”, your career path or personal life. And then ask yourself, “What is my only thing right now?” to identify that “little thing” that must guide your daily activities.
This way you can be sure that you always keep your top priority at the centre of your focus. The focal question can become the most important habit to influence your future. You can apply it to different areas of your life, modifying it to fit each sector by adding a temporal element.
For example, you can ask yourself: “What is the only thing I can do so that everything else will be easier or unnecessary... for my tennis?” Add “now”, “this year” or “one day”. If you can honestly tell yourself, “I am exactly where I should be right now and I am doing exactly what I should be doing,” then you are on the right track.
Also remember that a big, specific question leads to a big, specific answer needed to achieve a big goal. There are three possible answers to a question of this type: a feasible answer, an answer that makes you push a little further, and a possibility. The simplest answer is that it is already within the reach of your skills and experience and therefore does not require much effort. The next level is an answer that is still within your reach, but perhaps at the furthest end of your range of action. It will require you to put some extra effort to add to the limits of your current abilities. Successful people reject these two answers: they do not want to settle for the ordinary when it is possible to reach the extraordinary and they want to give a great answer to their big question, i.e., the best answer.
If you want the most out of your response, you will need to step outside your comfort zone. And the formula for achieving excellence: purpose, priority and productivity
Here is a simple formula to implement your one thing and achieve excellent results: purpose, priority and productivity. Your “big thing” is your purpose and your “little thing” is the priority you act on to achieve it. Who you are and where you want to go determine what you do and what you accomplish, and it is when your daily actions fulfil a greater purpose that you can be truly happy.
A definite purpose brings clarity and conviction into life and helps make quicker choices. When you live with purpose and know where you want to go, everything else in your life is automatically slotted into its place, without having to struggle to stay in control. The purpose is directly related to priorities: your goals and plans must be appropriate at the time of your life. Whenever you need to prioritize you find ourselves in a battle between your present and future selves, and most people are naturally inclined to prefer rewards in the present rather than in the future. This innate inclination leads you to delay greater challenges and achievements. To resolve this, try setting goals for now: look at a long-term goal to find your priority for today, for the week, for the month, and so on. Linking your long-term goals to short-term actions takes practice and awareness, but it's crucial. To be more productive, try the strategy of freezing time, and specifically freeze time on three things:
- Freeze your free time.
- Freeze time for your one thing.
- Freeze time for planning.
There is no mistake: your only thing comes second, after your free time, because you cannot sustain success in your professional life if you neglect your personal recovery time. For your only thing, the ideal is to block four hours a day, preferably in the morning. Finally, be sure to keep these potential detractors of your productivity at bay, namely:
* The fear of chaos: focusing on one thing has a certain consequence: other things are not done. There will always be unfinished business and outstanding issues. When you seek greatness, chaos is guaranteed, but instead of fighting it you must learn to accept it and over time you will have the means and opportunities to manage it better.
* Bad health habits: poor personal energy management is a thief of productivity. Great results require great energy, so don't neglect your health.
* The environment that does not support your goals: to achieve extraordinary results, the people around you and your physical environment must support your goals. Don't let your environment lead you astray.